All Other Nights [4★]

In All Other Nights, author Dara Horn pulls back the curtain on a secret side of Civil War History and a hidden people who were tangled up in its dark mysteries. 

Horn imagines the Civil War and it’s bloody horrors through the eyes of the Jews–people who were often ostracized and looked down upon, but who had been freed from slavery once themselves. Many Jews sided against slavery, and others revolted against a government they viewed as oppressive, but on whichever side, many of them worked unheard and unseen in the shadows. 

Horn’s protagonist, Jacob Rappaport, is a Union spy tasked with marrying a woman who, along with her sisters, has been smuggling information to the Confederate commanders. Jacob surprises himself when he succeeds at his mission, but in the middle of his apparent triumph, he encounters a more dangerous surprise: he has fallen in love with his wild and beautiful new wife. 

As the war and his deception tear him away from his wife, Jacob still seeks to serve his country while trying to repair the damage he’s done. He travels back and forth across battle lines, seeking out secrets, wearing masks, and gambling his life to try and achieve his goals. When he arrives at the fiery destruction of Richmond, Jacob is forced to come to terms with his actions and make a choice that could change the course of history. 

As always, I love Dara Horn’s richly imagined stories, full of imagery, symbolism, and intrigue. Horn weaves together the history of the Jewish people with the history of the Civil War for an inventive, insightful tale. The Jewish Passover holiday is meant to be a night different from all other nights, and it is laden with extra significance when set in the war against slavery.

All Other Nights is not my favorite of Horn’s novels, but her characters were cleverly contrived and her love story was satisfyingly star-crossed and sweet. I love plunging into the world that Horn creates, full of history and poignant meanings, tied up with my own heritage, and bursting to the seams with a sense of life and purpose.

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